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Hunt Institute presents new Great Expectations exhibit

Credit: Deborah Chu/Assistant News Editor Credit: Deborah Chu/Assistant News Editor

The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation’s latest exhibition, Great Expectations, is displayed on the fifth floor of Hunt Library, and will remain until June 30. The exhibition features artworks from 36 historical and contemporary artists that illustrate plants at different moments of development, according to each artist’s personal observations. According to the exhibit, the name refers to the “great expectation in the promise and energy held within a bud or a seed.” The gallery is free and open to the public, and the exhibition is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. It is also open on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

At the entrance of the exhibition, a sign describes the series as “phases of this continuous cycle of plant development … beautifully illustrated with collection items.” On display around a large room with mahogany-colored walls and floors are framed pieces of art that depict flowers and plants lit by carefully placed overhead lights. This evokes a quiet and serene atmosphere. Each of the pieces of art are accompanied by a description, and are organized by the stage of a plant’s lifecycle they reflect. Each phase, from “seed” to “flowering” to “declining,” to name a few, is indicated by a well-chosen quote.

While most students recognize Hunt Library as a place for buckling down to study, many students are unaware of the existence of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation’s gallery on the top floor. The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation is a research division of Carnegie Mellon University that specializes in the history of botany and plant science, and serves an international scientific community through research and documentation, according to its website.

Originally dedicated in 1961 as the Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Botanical Library, the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation has grown to boast a vast collection of books, images, manuscripts, portraits, data files, and publications, across four departments: Archives, Art, Bibliography, and the Library. The Art Department organizes two exhibitions a year, as well as a revolving sequence of international travel exhibitions on loan to museums, galleries, and botanical gardens.

In the fall of 2016, the Hunt Institute will host the 15th International Exhibition of Botanical Art and Illustration, which will start Sept. 15 and run until Dec. 15.